BIO301: Cell Biology

Course Syllabus for "BIO301: Cell Biology"

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As you learned in BIO101, the cell is the fundamental unit of life; in fact, the smallest living organisms are composed of a single cell. We have learned that, despite their small size, cells are far from simple, and we have only recently begun to understand just how complex they are. This course will present you with a detailed overview of a cell’s main components and functions. Most of the units will cover topics familiar to you from BIO101, such as mitosis or the cell nucleus, but will explore them in greater depth. The course is organized roughly into four major areas: the cell membrane, cell nucleus, cell cycle, and cell interior. We will approach most of these topics straightforwardly, from a molecular and structural point of view.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • explain what a eukaryotic cell is, identify the components of the cell, and describe how a cell functions;
  • describe the structure of cell membranes;
  • identify the general mechanisms of transport across cell membranes;
  • describe the different ways in which cells communicate with one another—specifically, via signaling pathways;
  • define the composition of the plant cell wall and the extracellular matrix and how the extracellular matrix is involved in forming structures in specific tissues;
  • describe the components of the cell’s cytoskeleton, explain how the cytoskeleton is formed and how it directs cell movements;
  • explain the fundamentals of gene expression and describe how gene expression is regulated at the protein level;
  • define and explain the major cellular events involved in mitosis and cytokinesis;
  • identify the major cellular events that occur during meiosis;
  • describe the eukaryotic cell cycle and identify the events that need to occur during each phase of the cell cycle;
  • identify all of the major organelles in eukaryotic cells and their respective major functions; and
  • define apoptosis and describe the pathways that regulate the process.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:

√    have access to a computer;

√    have continuous broadband Internet access;

√    have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g. Adobe Reader or Flash);

√    have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer;

√    have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.);

√    be competent in the English language;

√    have read the Saylor Student Handbook; and

√    have completed the following course listed in “The Core Program” of the Biology discipline as a pre-requisite: BIO101: Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Course Information

Welcome to BIO301: Cell Biology. General information about this course and its requirements can be found below.

Course Designer: Olivia D’Ambrogio and Kathleen George 

Primary Resources: This course is composed of a range of free, online materials. However, the course makes primary use of the following:

  • National Center for Biotechnology Information’s Bookshelf: Sinauer Associates: Professor Geoffrey Cooper’s The Cell: A Molecular Approach, 2e
  • iTunes U: University of California, Berkeley: Professor Randy Schekman, Kunxin Luo, and David G. Drubin’s “Molecular and Cell Biology 130” Lectures
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology OpenCourseWare: Professor Graham Walker’s “Introductory Biology” Lectures 

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned material. All units build on previous units, so it will be important to progress through the course in the order presented. Note that unit 1 is a review of concepts learned in your introductory biology and chemistry courses, such as BIO101 and BIO105/CHEM101. You will also need to complete

  • Unit 1 Assignment
  • Unit 2 Assignment
  • Unit 3 Assignment
  • Unit 5 Assignment
  • Unit 6 Assignment
  • Unit 7 Assignment
  • Unit 8 Assignment
  • Unit 9 Assignment
  • Unit 11 Assignment
  • Unit 12 Assignment
  • Final Assessment
  • Final Exam 

Note that you will only receive an official grade on your Final Exam. However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through the assignments and assessments listed above. 

In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again. 

Time Commitment: This course is the equivalent of a 3-credit semester-long course, and should take approximately 156 hours to complete.

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.